Students Staff



University of Essex

Graduation and awards

Graduation Ceremonies

Our graduation ceremonies are the highlight of the University’s academic year. We had to take the difficult decision last year to postpone our Summer and Winter 2020 ceremonies. We had hoped that we would be able to run Graduation ceremonies in July 2021 for both our 2020 and 2021 graduates. We wanted to keep open the possibility of ceremonies taking place in July for as long as possible.

We are proud of all our graduates and believe strongly that they deserve an amazing Graduation event. We are also committed to keeping them and their loved ones safe during the difficult circumstances of the pandemic. After considering all possible options for COVID-safe precautions, we have concluded that, at this stage of the pandemic, we cannot yet proceed with confidence to offer Graduation ceremonies in July 2021. We remain fully committed to inviting all our 2020 and 2021 graduates to celebrate at an in-person ceremony when it is safe to do so and we are confident we can deliver the best possible event.

We are working with our Departments and Schools on plans for alternative arrangements to celebrate the achievements of our 2021 graduates this summer. We will confirm the plans during the summer term as soon as we can.

All our students who graduate this summer will have their awards conferred as expected and will have access to certificates and transcripts this summer. Any queries relating to award documents can be directed to our dedicated address:

We are currently reviewing options for running ceremonies later than July 2021 and will confirm our plans as soon as we can. We will ensure that our plans comply with Government guidelines and take account of the trajectory of the COVID-19 virus. At the moment, the next potential date for in-person ceremonies is September 2021. We plan to take a final decision on the feasibility of this option by the end of May 2021 at the latest.

If September 2021 ceremonies are not possible, we are already looking at other options, including the possibility of a Winter Graduation event in 2021/22, subject to any continuing COVID-19 restrictions. We are also exploring the possibility for additional ceremonies in April 2022 alongside our July 2022 Graduation event.

Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions at

  • Why have we decided now to postpone the July ceremonies and not wait until later in the year to make a decision?

    On 22 February 2021, the Government published its roadmap for moving out of the national lockdown that has been in place since Christmas 2020. The roadmap sets out a series of steps with a gradual lifting of restrictions, which will be invoked subject to data related to infection levels. The roadmap makes clear the Government’s desire for most social restrictions to be lifted by 21 June 2021 at the earliest.

    Unfortunately this means a decision on the restrictions will not be taken to allow adequate time to plan and operate viable ceremonies, particularly ensuring our graduates are able to book tickets and make arrangements to attend. It is also not clear what restrictions are likely to be in place. For example, travel restrictions are likely to remain within the UK and/or internationally. This is especially relevant to one third of our students whose families are not UK based and could be planning international travel (where possible) to attend with their loved ones. It would be unfair to make last minute arrangements which could prevent large numbers of our graduates from both within the UK and beyond joining the celebrations. Even if large or multi events were permitted, they are likely to be subject to restrictions that will affect the high-quality Graduation event our graduates deserve.

    If the roadmap changes at all, or restrictions applicable to large events, whether indoors or outdoors, mean they are no longer feasible, those scheduled events may need to be cancelled. We owe a duty of care to our students and their families and cancelling a Graduation just weeks before it is due to take place would be even more disappointing for our graduates, who will likely have incurred non-refundable travel or accommodation costs.

  • Why are we not operating socially distanced or outside ceremonies in July 2021?

    The viability of running Graduation ceremonies in July 2021 has been based on the need to balance three broad factors: safety, quality and ability to deliver the event. We are proud of all our graduates and believe strongly that they deserve an amazing Graduation event. Our highest priority remains the safety of our community, which includes keeping our graduates and their loved ones safe during the difficult circumstances of the pandemic. We have considered several alternative options, including socially distanced and outside ceremonies. If we were to hold socially distanced ceremonies, our capacity would be limited, which would affect the number of guests, friends or family members able to attend. We know how important it is to so many of our students that they are able to enjoy and celebrate their Graduation surrounded by those close to them. Outside events are subject to the weather and could be seriously affected in adverse conditions.

  • Why are other Universities planning for Graduations, but not Essex?

    Most Universities are postponing their summer graduation ceremonies. Those Universities that are planning for ceremonies this summer are still saying they might have to cancel at the last minute and are doing so subject to Government restrictions. Many are also being planned as socially distanced events.

    Whilst the Government roadmap offers hope, restrictions are still likely to apply to medium and large events after the Step 4, which we will enter at 21 June 2021 at the earliest. Even if large or multi events were permitted, they are likely to be subject to restrictions that will affect the high quality Graduation event our graduates deserve. It is not yet clear what restrictions will continue to apply to events beyond this point.

  • Why are festivals and other large events planned in the UK, but not yet a Graduation at Essex?

    All large events are subject to Government restrictions. There are different restrictions for events held inside, and those held outside. Outdoor events, such as festivals, are of a very different nature and their spacious outdoor sites provide greater opportunity for social distancing, and thus a lower risk environment. Outside events are subject to the weather and could be seriously affected in adverse conditions.

  • Why is Graduation not going ahead but SU events are planned over the summer?

    The Students’ Union are organising events over the summer that are subject to Government restrictions and University protection levels. As with Graduation, any scheduled SU events will not go ahead if the circumstances mean that it is not safe to do so or the restrictions are likely to affect the quality or experience for our students. Graduation is a much more complex event than those currently being scheduled by the SU and requires significant planning. It involves attendance from our graduates and their friends, family and supporters from all over the UK and around the world, as well as working with external suppliers. We believe it would be unfair to ask our graduates to make travel plans and other arrangements when we are not confident that high quality Graduation ceremonies will be possible in July 2021 and want to provide clarity now.

Celebrating your achievements

We will provide you with an opportunity to celebrate your achievements with friends and family as soon as we can, but we can't confirm new dates yet. Please ensure that your external e-mail address is up to date in MyEssex before you complete your studies so that we can keep you up-to-date.

Your award documentation

Once your award has been conferred, you are officially an Essex graduate – congratulations!

You will receive formal Award Documentation to verify your achievements. All graduates receive an electronic Award Certificate, as well as a printed, hard copy parchment Award Certificate too. All students with taught components to their degree will also receive an academic transcript, which is available online through the Higher Education Achievement Record (HEAR).

You can find out more about Award Documents, including your Certificate, and how you receive these on our Awards webpage.

Stay in touch for updates

We want to keep in touch with our Alumni community and to let you know about ‘all things Essex’ after you officially finish. Please keep your external contact details up to date in ‘My Essex’ and do please let us know how you would like us to communicate with you in the future. You can update your preferences online, all you need is your PR_ID (formatted like ABCDE12345).

We promise to be in touch with updates when we have more news. For the moment we wish you all the best as you prepare for the summer assessment period.

Quick links


Colchester Campus

You can book accommodation when you're visiting for Graduation. Accommodation is provided in single ensuite bedrooms in self-contained flats each containing between six and fourteen rooms.

Gown hire

Three graduation students

All graduating students attending the graduation ceremony wear academic robes of the University of Essex (gown, cap/mortar board and hood) appropriate to the degree being conferred.

Guest tickets

Three graduation students

Guest tickets will be available to purchase and will admit the ticket holder to the Graduation Ceremony in the Ivor Crewe and to the departmental reception.